NEW YORK, March 30 (AP)--When Dennis John Malvasi was sentenced in 1987 for bombing New York City abortion clinics, he told the judge he wanted to ask just one question: ``Is abortion murder?''

Investigators say Malvasi was so certain the answer was ``yes,'' that once out of jail he conspired to help James Kopp, the alleged killer of an abortion doctor, evade an international manhunt.

Malvasi, 51, and his wife and fellow anti-abortion activist, Claire Marra, 37, were being held without bail Friday after their arrest on federal charges of harboring a felon.

Wearing handcuffs and a Seton Hall University sweatshirt as FBI agents led him to court, Malvasi told reporters he had ``never met (Kopp) in his entire life.... I don't know this man.''

Marra's attorney called her ``normal in every respect.''

Kopp was apprehended Thursday after two years on the run as he walked out of a post office in the small French town of Dinan.

Authorities here were quick to point out Malvasi's and Marra's record of radical anti-abortion protest. They also claimed evidence found behind the couple's apartment in a low-income section of Brooklyn proved they were in steady, cozy contact with one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives.

A Vietnam veteran, Malvasi emerged as a prime suspect in a series of abortion clinic bombings in New York in the 1980s. He pleaded guilty to involvement in two bombings in 1987 and served five years in prison.

A criminal complaint said Marra knew Kopp since 1990, when both were arrested after chaining themselves together at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Vermont. Marra's brother, Nicholas, told investigators he had seen her with Kopp as late as 1997.

The couple, court papers said, had gone underground in March 1999. Marra allegedly assumed the identity of Joyce Maier, Malvasi's disabled niece. Neighbors said she and her husband kept to themselves.

The suspects set up their apartment as a ``safe house'' both for Kopp and themselves, court papers said. But by October of last year, the FBI had them under electronic surveillance, listening in on their conversations and intercepting e-mails to Kopp.

``If I leave the security of (the safe house), you know, my whole life will fall apart again,'' Marra allegedly was overhead saying at one point. ``I can't risk it.''

Using coded e-mails, the couple plotted to sneak Kopp back into the United States through Montreal using a forged Irish passport.

The suspects fretted over whether their children would recognize their long lost ``Uncle Jim,'' and blow his cover, court papers said.

The papers said Marra and Malvasi agreed Kopp would be introduced as ``Mr. Tony Barret, a friend of ours.''

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad